A plea from Class 10 students: Decide on our fate now
The Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc with our lives over the past 14 months, and this is especially true for students of Class 10 and 12.
With even experts unsure of how the pandemic will unfold, the authorities had to take many ad hoc decisions over the past year. The government decided to first reduce the syllabus, postpone the board exams, and, finally, cancel them altogether.
I do understand that these decisions were delayed because the administration was still learning about the virus, but the uncertainty around the board exams and the syllabus created a lot of anxiety for the students, teachers and their families. Thankfully, a number of people gave voice to these concerns, and board exams that could have been potential superspreader events were cancelled for both Class 10 and 12.
While the issue has been resolved for last year’s batch, the same problems are now being faced by children who are currently in Class 10 or 12. Board exams for Class 12 students affect their college admissions, and so related decisions probably need greater debate. However, the decision regarding the fate of children who are in Class 10 today can be taken relatively quickly.
Like the batch before us, we are also facing uncertainty around two issues — whether there will be board exams this year, and will we be tested on the entire syllabus or not?
As opposed to last year, the government now has a better understanding of the pandemic. We know that while social distancing and masking help, the only way for us to resume normal life is to ensure that the entire population is vaccinated against Covid-19. While the government has said that it will vaccinate all adults by December 2021, from what I have read in the newspapers, it seems that some steps still need to be taken to achieve this milestone. We need more vaccines to vaccinate all adults, and greater awareness to tackle vaccine hesitancy, especially in our villages and smaller towns.
As far as we students are concerned, for physical classes to start, and for us to be able to appear for our board exams next March, without risking our teachers, families and ourselves, the government needs to approve a vaccine for children above 12 years and vaccinate them too. Unfortunately, it does not seem that either of these vaccination targets is going to be achieved this year.
When the government decides on our fate, I hope that it realises that the last year has been difficult for us 15-year-olds. Not only have we had to get used to online classes, the terrible second wave has seen a lot of children lose family members and friends. Some children have even contracted this disease themselves, and most have watched their elders worry about their work and their financial situation.
All of this comes at a time when we have spent the past 15 months without meeting our friends, playing any sport or doing any of the things we normally do. To add to all this is the anxiety that we feel as soon as the words “board exams” are uttered. If nothing is normal around us, should we be expected to carry on with a normal board year?
With the government better placed to take timely decisions, there is no reason why the decision regarding the syllabus should not be taken over the next few weeks. As far as holding the Class 10 board exams are concerned, it will not hurt us academically if they are not held this year too. We are fortunate that an alternative system of testing has already been used for the previous batch, and the same system of internal tests and evaluation can be used to evaluate our performance too.
The pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us, and on behalf of all my batchmates, I do hope that the government will decide quickly on these issues, so that we are spared a year of uncertainty and board exam-related anxiety, and can focus on learning in a more predictable and reassuring manner.
Nayantara Deva is a Class 10 student at The Shri Ram School
The views expressed are personal